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Description: If we need glasses, it's hard to read, or see the path. Spiritual intuition doesn't plot out a path - instead it teaches us to hear God's voice
Spiritual Life #35
Intuition & Guidance
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I’d like to just talk for the last time about intuition. And I’d just remind you of where it fits
into the scheme of things. And I tried to work out all the variations on this that I can. I
thought, “Well, we’ll start backwards this time.” But really, the bulk of mankind live like that
[showing diagram on board]. They have a spirit, a soul, and a body. Really they live primarily from
the body inwards and they live to get their happiness through the thrills that they can get through
And we know that alcohol is an obvious one to get your emotions at peace or exhilarated but sex is
another one. And then after that there’s all the satisfaction that many of us get when we’re
worried or anxious from just eating, eating, eating. And we eat to try and get some kind of peace
in the old emotions. And there’s the kind of happiness we get from having a nice swim in the
morning, or there’s the happiness that we get from going out on a boat, or going on a motorbike.
And much of the world is utterly enslaved to that kind of thing and that’s why they get very
irritated if you take the toys away from them. And maybe so are we a little, because when we get
irritated it is always because someone has taken away the external things that we depend on for
happiness and that give us our sense of significance in the same way. The most obvious way of
course is dressing up nicely so that people notice you, and praise you, and say how wonderful you
look, and how beautiful you are but really, there are all kinds of other ways that we force our
colleagues at work, and our friends to praise us.
I used the example in Britain — and English people are just the same as us in America, how we bring
up certain conversations that will bring up a subject that we’re very good at so that we can have
kind of compliments that we prompt from other people. So we bring up singing if we’re very good at
singing, or we bring up sport if we’re very good at sport. And so we use all kinds of methods to
drag significance for ourselves out of our relationships with people.
Normally, we try to get happiness from circumstances, from right circumstances. Normally we try to
get significance from people, and then we try to get our security from things. And most of us have
been involved at some time or another in thinking that we could beat Howard Hughes [a billionaire],
and that we could actually get to a point where we had so many things, and so much money, and so
many shares in so many stocks that we would have security at last. And of course examples of people
like Hughes who had everything and yet are miserable bring home to us that it doesn’t matter how
many houses you get, it doesn’t matter how much clothes you get, it doesn’t matter what kind of job
you have, you cannot get security in this world from things.
But loved ones, the bulk of people live that way. Their spirits are dead and they live from their
bodies inward. And most of them become aware not that they’re doing that but most of them become
aware of the sins that occur in their lives because they live that way. So they get up some morning
and they were looking forward to going out swimming, or going out boating, or sailing, or going out
playing some sports and it’s a bad day and they’re just bears for the rest of the day. And they
become aware there’s something wrong in here, “I’m being irritable, I’m being resentful. There’s
Or, it’s the same with security. They lose their job, or their bank balance goes down, or their
salary is reduced and suddenly they get worried and anxious and the more worried and anxious they
get the more insensitive to their loved ones they become, the less time they have to love their
friends. And the more their vision becomes tunnel vision that is built just on, “How do I get this
money that I need?” And it’s that that they become aware of. It’s the lack of love that they
become aware of, the sin of greed or avarice, or of worry, or of anxiety.
And it’s the same with significance. Most of us are not aware that we’re trying to draw
significance from other people but we are aware of the resentment, and jealousy, and pride we feel
when other people do not obviously think we’re as important as them. And it’s normally the sins
that we become aware of. And you know that most of us have come through that. We’ve sensed that
there is sin in us; we’re not the way our Creator wants us to be.
Then comes the great message that he has done something on Calvary that enables him to forgive us
and many of us at that moment confess our sins and say that we will give our lives to you, Lord.
We’re not really fully aware of what it means but we sense that in some way we should depend on him
and not depend on the world. Then our spirits come alive and then you know that many of us are
faced with that carnal life where we’re drawing something from God, but not everything. We’re
getting some security from God and from his love. Some sense of significance from the fact that he
knows us by name, some sense of happiness from times of prayer and Bible study, but it’s a two way
We’re still drawing some of it from the world and we’re trying to draw some of it from God and
that’s where we get into that conflict you remember where the lust of the flesh in that way fights
against the desires of the spirit to prevent us from doing what we will, and we find that conflict
within where we cry “the good that I would I cannot and the evil I hate is the very thing that I
do.” (Romans 7:18) And it’s then that we see we have to sooner or later settle this. Sooner or
later we have to stop living off the world completely and live only from God. And that’s a big
moment in a child of God’s life when they at last determine that.
When they deal with the security, significance, and the happiness that they’re getting from things,
and from people, and from circumstances — and they determine to join Jesus on the cross. Really,
it’s where they were all the time – but they just agree to stay in Jesus on the cross and be
crucified with him. And, that’s what baptism into Jesus means and that’s what it meant for the
early Christians when they went under the water. The water covered them and cut them off. And I’m
not selling water baptism, I’m just saying this is part of the meaning of it. The water covered them
and they had no more interaction with the outside world you see, and that’s what it means. It means
you die to what you used to get from the outside world from people, and from circumstances, and from
The water covered them and the only life they could depend on was the life within or the life they
had under the water. The only person under the water with them was Jesus and they were buried with
him by baptism into death and then they rose with him into this life that comes from God and that’s
when you begin to walk in the Spirit. And why I just went over that again was the abilities of our
spirits only begin to be exercised if you’ve really determined to live that way and that way alone.
So you’ll have no understanding of intuition, loved ones, if you’re still involved in this inward
life from the outside in, you really won’t. And tonight I’ll talk about intuition and you’ll be
like that dear man who was healed, you remember, and Jesus said, “Can you see?” And he said, “Well,
I see men as trees walking” — just vague. And that’s what it’ll be like with you. If you’ve only
been touched once by God’s Spirit and been born of God but not been baptized with the Spirit, then
all the things we share tonight will be kind of vague.
Oh, did I ever tell you about the Indian brother at our training school? He was at his first Greek
class and he has some of those English phrases that were passed on to him by his British education I
suppose and I think it was Dan Schafer who was teaching him the Greek and Dan said, “Okay, do you
understand that Kush?” And he said, “Well, it’s still a big foggy.” And you know, some of us are
like that in spiritual matters where we see it but it’s still a bit foggy, we don’t quite see it
Now loved ones, if you don’t see it clearly it’s always because you have not settled this once and
for all, you see. You have not once and for all accepted, “Lord Jesus, I was with you when you were
cut off from this world and when the world was crucified to you and you were crucified to it. I was
in you. And Lord, thank you that I was in you. I gladly accept my position with you, I gladly
accept that I am crucified as far as what my friends can do to me or for me. I thank you for that
Lord.” Only when you settle that loved ones, only when you’ve really turned your will away from
what you can get from the outside world will you begin to see things clearly and will you be able to
have that second touch of God’s spirit, and will you have eyes that have all the scales off them,
and you can see clearly, and you can exercise your intuition. Truly, really.
Now, what we’ve been talking about, loved ones, in regard to intuition is that it’s through the
intuition of the spirit that God tells us what to do in our lives. And what I’d like to share a
little bit about before we talk about guidance is discernment. One of the abilities that the Holy
Spirit can give you through intuition is the ability to discern different spirits. And you get that
teaching if you’d like to look at it in 1 John 2:20. It’s inherent in that verse that we read
before. 1 John 2:20, “But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know.” And then down
to Verse 26, “I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you
received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his
anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide
And you see the anointing which you receive from him abides in you and you’ve no need that anyone
should teach you because his Spirit will show you what is true and what is untrue. And that ties up
with, you see, the first verse of Chapter 4 there across the page, 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not
believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets
have gone out into the world.” Now, intuition is an ability of your spirit to discern those who are
true and those who are false.
So Watchman Nee tells the story and I’ve shared it with you before how in one house away in a remote
part of China he had only time to teach the bare facts about Jesus’ death and their death with him.
And it was a man and his wife who lived alone and Nee told them that and they entered into it and
then he had to go off. He could leave them no other information. And he came back months later to
that house and that area and he was visiting with the husband and wife and he asked them how they
had been doing and they said, “Oh great, we’ve been growing in Jesus.”
And then he saw some books, because there were very few books in that area at all and certainly none
in that house, but there were some very new looking books up on the shelf. And he said to them,
“What are those?” And the man looked at them as if he had never bothered much with them and he
said, “Oh, a man came by and gave us these books and I started to read one but the boss inside
wouldn’t let me read them.” And the “boss inside” was the Holy Spirit. He called him the boss
And Nee of course said, “Oh, let me see the books.” And of course they were Watch Tower productions
of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the dear man didn’t know anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses and didn’t
know anything about their teachings but the spirit inside had given him discernment that this was
not of God, that this was not pure and true. Now loved ones, that’s part of the value of
discernment that is a gift of the Holy Spirit and that comes to all of us who submit to the Holy
Now, you may say, “Well now, brother you said that we would have to be baptized with the spirit in
order to experience that.” Well of course, the strange thing is that while you walk in obedience to
the Holy Spirit even in a carnal state the Holy Spirit graciously keeps you safe. The dangerous
time is when you begin to disobey the Holy Spirit and that’s the real time of carnality, you know.
At the beginning you remember, when we first know Jesus we just walk after him with joy, and
delight, and with a full surrender. But then there comes a time when we begin to think about our
reputation, we begin to think about our own comfort, and it’s then that we begin to disobey the
Spirit. It’s then that the Holy Spirit is unable to give us that constant discernment. And yet
loved ones, it’s vital to have that if we are to be protected.
Now, you see that also, you remember, in the gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. It is one of the gifts that
Paul mentions and it’s 1 Corinthians 12:10. “To another the working of miracles, to another
prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits.” And that is one of the gifts that
the Holy Spirit ministers through your intuition.
Now, many of us do not lean on the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day life. And, many of us think, “No,
no that’s what our mind is for. Our mind is given to us to discern truth from error.” Now, the
fact is loved ones, your mind is given to read and study God’s word and to understand his word.
Your mind itself is actually neutral and it’s just vital that you realize that. You know that you
have as enthusiastically defended a certain point of view months ago that you now just as
enthusiastically oppose. And you know that brilliant little mind of yours can gather up as many
arguments against it now as it gathered up formerly for it.
The mind can defend whatever the will gives itself to and so the mind is not a final arbiter in what
is true and untrue. And what happens with those of us that depend on the mind to keep us free from
false teaching, is that we get involved in false teaching. That’s why so many highly intelligent
clever people get off into the sects, into Mormonism, and into Jehovah’s Witnesses, and into
Christian Science. They have good minds but it is not a matter of the mind. The mind defends
whatever the will, which depends on the spirit, chooses.
And the only way really to be safe from false spirits in these last days is by the Holy Spirit
himself and by an absolute obedience to him. And oh, many of us here have been just burned really
because there are many loved ones who look very like Jesus. There are. And I would encourage you
to see that. Would you stop this silly idea of thinking that every spirit of antichrist will have
horns, and a big tail, and a big fork in his hands. He won’t. The very spirit of antichrist, the
very name antichrist means yes that he’s against Christ but that he’s against Christ in very
Christ-like ways and that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And the Bible always describes false
prophets and spirits of antichrist as being in sheep’s clothing, as being angels of light, people
that will look like Jesus.
So I know a group that operate really all over the nation and perhaps still hold summer camps up in
the north of Minnesota and their chief doctrine is that there is a hell but it will come to an end.
And they ignore the verses like “you are cast into the fire whose worm dieth not and whose fire is
not quenched.” They ignore those verses and they say, “No, no, no. Hell will be “aion-aionios” —
which is “the ages of the ages” which is an idiomatic Greek phrase for “forever”. Every Greek
scholar knows it means forever.
“Unto the ages of the ages” is just an idiomatic phrase — but these loved ones aren’t deep Greek
scholars and they say, “Oh no, it’s to the ages of the ages and eventually the ages will end and the
fire of hell will be put out and we’ll all end up back in the Father’s heart.” And that’s their
doctrine. It’s not scriptural, it doesn’t follow what Jesus has taught. He describes everywhere
that the fire is eternal and that we’ll burn forever in our own selfishness. But these loved ones
have an incredible appearance of love in their community, really. And I had a dear friend, she was
a doctor in the university and she got drawn into this thing. Why? Because she said, “You should
see how loving they are. They really love. There’s really a spirit of Jesus’ love about them.”
Now loved ones, I would encourage you to see that when you come up against heresy or the spirit of
antichrist, it will not be something that you can discern by analyzing it with your mind. Normally,
it will be something that your mind will not discern and it will only be something that your spirit
will discern. That’s because the Holy Spirit is a person. He knows what Jesus is like, he’s out to
glorify Jesus and he can spot a person who glorifies himself in a moment and he can transmit that
knowledge to you. But only if you lean on him. Really, you do have to come to the place that Jacob
came to in Peniel – you remember up in Peniel where he eventually had his hip put out of joint and
he limped for the rest of his life and had to hold on to the spirit of God. (Genesis 32:24-32)
Now, only when you walk like that will you be saved, truly. If you’re uppity, and you’re proud, and
you think, “Sure I know it all and I don’t need the Spirit to keep me safe, I can use my mind ” —
loved ones, you’ll never keep free from heresy by using your mind. Your mind is finally a neutral
instrument that is used by God’s Spirit. It’s only the intuition of the Holy Spirit that will keep
you clear. And it’s the same with all those sects.
You know the one, “You’ll be baptized in Jesus’ name.” Well loved ones, unless you really know
scripture, and you understand the whole teaching of the trinity in Matthew 28:18, “Go and preach the
gospel to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit.” When these loved ones get a hold of you and they point to other verses that are summaries
and say they baptized them in the name of Jesus and then they start saying, “See, you ought to be
baptized just in the name of Jesus. That’s the way you’ll get into heaven.”
You won’t realize that you’re dealing with that old corner-on-truth heresy and that’s what most
heresies are built on, do you understand that? Most heresies take the approach of the old agnostics
in the first century. They say, “Oh yeah, Jesus; well that’s good, it’s good to have Jesus but
you’ll be really sure if you have this particular understanding that God has given us.” So it’s
always Jesus plus our particular little bit of knowledge. And yet loved ones, you’ll be drawn into
that unless you walk humbly with the Holy Spirit. And he is the one who will show these loved ones,
certainly they do seem to love Jesus but they love their extra little special mark more even than
they love their Lord. And only the Holy Spirit can show you those things.
And it’s the same with people you know, reading people. You know the way children are great, and
dogs are excellent you know, oh because they’re so uncomplicated and they still in a sense go with
the gift that God gave them at the very beginning and children know immediately, don’t they? They
know whether a person can be trusted or not and we did as children, didn’t we? We just had a sense,
“Yeah, I like that guy,” or, “I like that woman,” or, “I know he loves me,” or, “I know she loves
me.” And children are like that and little dogs are like that, they can spot you a mile away and
that’s the inner gift of intuition that the Holy Spirit anoints of course, and changes, and renews,
and brings alongside Jesus himself and enables you to sense where people are.
Now, the reason for that is so that you don’t judge people. If you don’t trust the Holy Spirit and
lean heavily upon him in your relationships with people you end up judging people. That’s right.
Because you say to yourself, “Unless I know where this person is I can’t minister to him.” And it
always sounds so good, you know, “Unless I know just whether they’re born of the spirit, or filled
with the spirit, or walking with the spirit, unless I know exactly what they believe about this,
exactly what they believe about that, I can’t minister to them.” So you end up judging people.
You end up deciding what a person’s destiny will be and of course, that’s not your responsibility at
all and indeed by doing that, you usurp and grieve the Holy Spirit because he is the one who judges.
When the Holy Spirit comes he will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.
(John 16:8-11) In fact, he’s the one who points out sin. He doesn’t even judge, he just points out
sin. It’s Jesus who in the last day will judge us and so what you do is you usurp the place of the
Holy Spirit in conviction of sin and you usurp the place of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus,
in judging a person.
And of course, if you’ve ever done that you know what it results in. It results in negativism in
your life, a critical spirit towards people, a superior attitude towards them, and pride — pride
that swells and swells and makes you feel, “Well, they’re alright but I have this x-ray insight into
them.” And it means that you can’t love them truly. And of course it’s a dreadful burden, it means
you can’t be free with people. It means if you do happen to be a little further spiritually than
they are you’re feeling that. You can’t enjoy yourself with them, you’re thinking, “Oh, what must I
give to these poor souls?”
And of course the beauty of the discernment of the Holy Spirit in people is you just trust the Holy
Spirit to show you what this person next needs; really. And so you’re like a doctor or a surgeon is
a specialist in a certain part of the body and he sees that part of the body and he sees, “Ah, I can
do something to fix that part of the body.” And he gets to work on it and he works on that
particular part about which he’s a specialist. He doesn’t judge the whole body, he doesn’t say,
“Ah, that body is not worth saving at all;it’s dying on its feet.” No, he just does his best with
the part of the body he’s dealing with. And it’s beautiful, he doesn’t have to decide whether the
person’s dying, dead, or alive — he just deals with the part of the body about which he’s a
Now, that’s what happens when you work as a servant of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit discerns in
a person something that you can do or give them, some spiritual gift that you can share with them,
some light that you can share and then you just share that and you go on your merry way. And it is
beautiful, it’s beautiful. It frees you from any need to judge people, from any need to take them
under your control because you cannot. It frees you from any need to be God over them, from any need
to be their judge on the last day, and you just can be their friend and you walk with a light heart
down life’s way like that. And it is, it’s a beautiful way to be and a beautiful way to go. And it
enables them to receive something from you without coming under enslavement to you.
Now loved ones, only the gift of discernment will enable you to be that with people. Otherwise,
really you know how it goes, you’ll be involved all the time in judging your brothers and your
sisters and I don’t think you have any right to do that. So a brother came to me at the end of the
service this morning and we were talking for some time and he was talking a little about the
intellectual view points of C. S. Lewis and so forth. And then he said, “Oh well, I suppose you’ve
sized up where I am already?” And I said, “No, no I haven’t. No I haven’t.” I used to do that. I
used to love to think, I can just nail them right there, and that’s him — and the Holy Spirit
taught me that that is nothing but death.
And no, it’s great because you can enjoy your friends, and you can enjoy your brothers and sisters,
and you can have a good time even with loved ones who maybe aren’t in the perfect place spiritually
but you can enjoy yourself with them knowing that the blessed Holy Spirit will give you discernment
as to what you should share with them. You share that and you go. It takes away from you of course
the big burden of having to convert people. That’s the biggest burden, you know.
We go to witnessing and we think, “We have to convert them, we have to bring them right through.”
And we go to everyone and we spoil lots of beautiful situations at work because we feel we have to
convert them, bring them the whole way through. Argue them into believing there’s a God, argue them
into believing that the Bible is true, that Jesus is divine, that he died for them, get them to deal
with their sins, confess and repent, get them to give their life to God and then arrange which
missionary society they should go out under. And it’s really a burden that is unbearable. None of
us can bear it and that’s why so many of us back off from witnessing because we think that
witnessing is converting people, it isn’t. Witnessing is being what the Holy Spirit wants us to be
to them at the time that we meet them at that point in their life. And it’s a free experience and a
Now, that’s what the Holy Spirit does through the intuition of the spirit. Now loved ones, I’d just
like to share with you just briefly on guidance and then maybe we could close. Some of us think
that getting guidance from God is obtained the same way as we got guidance before we met God. The
way we received guidance before we met God was we fed in this way of course, we fed in from outside.
We did the SAT test and any other test that we could find and we concluded that undoubtedly we were
mechanically inclined, or undoubtedly we were fitted to be another Milton, or another Shakespeare.
And then we decided, yes that’s the way we should go and then we talked to other people who were
experts in that subject and we discussed with them how we should set about getting training for
ourselves. And then we put ourselves under the training of some professor, or some school and we
did three or four years training in that. And then when we came out we looked up the newspapers and
the lists of jobs and we went to see whether this one paid this amount, or if we weren’t concerned
about money we found out, did we like the campus that we would have to work on, or did we like the
job environment in which we were going to operate? Did we like the people that they had there? And
were there prospects?
And all of it was based on the whole world principle that your job is to fulfill yourself, to make
yourself bigger, and bigger, and more satisfied. And that’s the way we operated in guidance. And
so every time we would ask about things with our mind, and with our tongue we would be inquiring,
“How can we get ourselves into a better, more comfortable, more influential, more prosperous
position?” And that’s the way I think we operated.
Now loved ones, that’s not the method of guidance that God wants us to follow. God says, “I will
guide you with my eye. I will guide you with my eye.” This afternoon I looked up and there’s this
miserable little creature that I own, this little Yorkshire terrier. And he’s looking at me like
that because he wants to go out and he has his eyes set upon me. And I look at him again and he’s
glaring and so I look back to the sermon and started to read it and I felt his eyes on me and I look
and he’s looking. And then I just look towards the door and he’s through the door in a moment and
that’s what God means, “I will guide you with my eye. But that means that your eyes have to be on
mine every moment.”
And so those silly little dogs, you know, are just a great example of how God guides through the
intuition of the spirit. He guides you with his eye. Loved ones, you may hope that he will have a
big hammer like that, clunk you over the head, throw some chains around you and pull you in. He
won’t, he will not. And some of us really hope that he will keep slamming doors. You know, that’s
the way we talk about, “Slam the door. Oh well, I keep going through this door until it closes.”
And really, with some of us, we keep going whether it closes or not, we just go.
Loved ones, God guides you with his eye. He guides you when you’re looking at him and when you want
desperately to know what he wants for your life. You have to want to know what he wants for your
life and you have to walk day-by-day in obedience to him. Some of us think that God will guide us
whether we obey him day-by-day or not and we hope, you know, that we can side step obedience in all
kinds of little ways during the days and when it comes to the big moment of guidance somehow we’ll
be able to follow God. It’s illogical.
We hope that we’ll be able to disobey him just at our own discretion and convenience day-after-day
and then suddenly for some unknown reason he’ll make us obey him at the critical time of guidance.
He doesn’t work that way. God requires us to have our eyes upon him and to be anxious to please him
in every little instance as we go through life and then when it comes to guidance we’ll be so used
to having our eyes upon his, and we’ll be so used to submitting our wills to his, and we’ll be so
used to submitting our spirits to his Spirit that we’ll just walk on gently into his way.
Now, that’s his will. And loved ones, if you say, “Well, brother doesn’t God at times use closed
doors?” Yes, but honestly it’s what he uses with those of us who have not yet depended upon him,
really. And it’s often a very unsatisfactory method because depending on the stubbornness or the
independence of your own spirit you will at times think a door is open when it is actually closed.
And so God at times has great trouble getting through to us which door is closed and which is open.
Normally, God’s way is a way of guiding you with his eye. You’re so intent to do his will, you’re
so intent to love him and to delight in him that he gives you the desires of your heart because, the
desires of your heart are his will. And really in a way, that’s the only way to seek guidance.
It’s just a natural guidance that is unsought that just comes from your normal relationship with the
Father and that’s the way he wants you to go. He doesn’t want you to go taking polls of all your
friends, he doesn’t want you to go to all kinds of advisors – I should say for the benefit of the
counselors here that counselors are good to confirm God’s guidance but it’s not God’s plan that we
should get our initial guidance from counselors.
Our initial guidance should come from him and then we should go to loved ones that we trust, either
older brothers and sisters in Jesus who are spiritually mature, or people who understand the way God
deals with us, or we should go to our elders, or our pastors and we should say, “Well, brother or
sister I feel that God is guiding me this way. Now, would you pray about this and would you let me
know what you think?” And that’s what is called the confirmation of the brethren and that’s the
place of true counselors in the guidance of a Christian.
The child of God should get it first from the Father and then should go to someone older in the
faith. And what is the point of that? To make sure that they’re not listening to some erroneous
spirit. If you say to me, “Oh, now an erroneous spirit wouldn’t give you guidance certainly.”
Certainly he would, sure. And if you say to me, “Oh, well an erroneous spirit wouldn’t prompt me to
say, ‘I think the Lord wants me to do that.’” Of course he would, yes; because all of us — we’re
no fools — we know the way to get agreement from any of us, don’t we? I just come to you and say,
“I believe the Lord wants me to do this.” “Okay.”
Really, if you want the confirmation of other people you just say, “I believe the Lord wants me to
do that.” Loved ones, we’re little children, we all know that trick but what we need is older
brothers and sisters who love us and who will honestly seek Jesus for us and will either confirm the
guidance or deny it. Now, if you don’t do that you are open to all kinds of erroneous spirits that
can make you sense all kinds of things are coming from God. And you’ll use the Lord’s name in
connection with them. You’ll say, “I believe the Lord wants me to do this.”
Now loved ones, I’ll tell you a sure way of telling whether you’re guided by God’s Spirit or not.
Those who are guided by God’s Spirit move with a gentle spirit. That’s a fruit of the Spirit. The
fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness. A gentle spirit is
one that is easily turned in God’s hands. Do you remember the pieces of scripture that say, “Don’t
be like a mule or an ox that cannot be turned but be a person with a gentle spirit that is easily
turned in God’s hand.” And that’s the mark of a person who is receiving guidance from God’s Spirit.
They’ll come to an elder, or a pastor, or an older brother or sister in Christ and they’ll say,
“Brother, I think God is guiding me this way. Will you pray about it and will you let me know what
you think?” And up to that moment they don’t commit themselves in any way. They don’t move out in
unscriptural guidance by settling the job, or by arranging their future, they keep their hearts
open. And then when the other person comes back and says, “Sure, I think that’s great if you just
go. I believe that’s the right step for you.” Then they go forward. But, if the other person
says, “God’s Spirit seems to be checking me. I don’t think you should move. I think you should
stay just as you are.” Then there’s nothing built up in that person’s spirit. Their spirit is
gentle, it just sinks gently under God’s hand and says, “Thank you, brother. Thank you for freeing
me from some mistake that I would have made.” And they just stay where they are and they move the
way they’re moving.
Now loved ones, that’s a help, I think, to some of you who have had problems with this and wonder,
“Is the Lord telling me to do this or telling me to do that?” Loved ones, go to someone whom you
can trust and let them pray about it and then if you refuse to go by their confirmation, loved ones
there is no hope of moving with God. I mean, you will move into all kinds of wilderness paths if
you move without scriptural guidance. So that’s God’s plan for us.
Now, that’s the normal way of guidance. At times there has to be sought guidance, guidance that is
sought. In other words, you suddenly come to certain forks in the road. You didn’t realize, the
company closes up, or you lose your job, or something happens that moves you into a place where you
have to make a decision and you haven’t naturally walked one way or the other and you come to a
place where you have to seek definite guidance from God.
Loved ones, the most difficult thing to do and the most essential thing to do is to commit your
present situation into God’s hands and to stop being preoccupied with the issue. Really, that’s the
most difficult thing to do. And yet, if you don’t do that, your mind will twist and turn — should
I go this way or should I go that way? Should I go this way or should I go that way? The advantage
of this way is this; the advantage of that way is that. And you’ll go back and forward on the thing
until your head is spinning.
The most vital thing to do when you’re seeking definite guidance from God is to forget the thing
completely. To commit it to God and delight yourself in God; really. And in every situation where
guidance is needed the most difficult thing to do is to die to the problem or the issue that you’re
facing and yet it’s vital to do that. If you don’t do that your mind will churn around and will
overcome and compress your spirit completely and you’ll get nothing from God.
The first thing is to be preoccupied with God. I’d just point out that famous verse again, if you
would just keep it in mind in connection with everything regarding the intuition of the Spirit but
especially this one of guidance. It’s Acts 13:12. It concerns the big important moves that had to
be made in evangelism you remember, in the early church, “While they were worshiping the Lord and
fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have
called them.’” And that was of course God’s confirmation to Barnabas and Saul that came through the
prophets and teachers that are mentioned in the previous verse. But when did they come? Verse 2,
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting.”
That’s the most vital thing to do in seeking guidance. Worship God, love him, praise him, pray to
him and then do what comes naturally. Do what comes naturally. Don’t wait for visions, don’t wait
for subtle messages from other people, don’t wait all the time for outside circumstances to change.
Come into a place where the Spirit witnesses that you’re really at peace. Now, that’s important.
It’s not just pray a little prayer and then you say, “Okay, I’ve worshiped the Lord. Fast? Okay, I
won’t have lunch. I fasted. Now, I’ll just do what comes naturally.” No, it’s really seeking God.
It’s seeking God and delighting yourself in him and coming to that place where the Holy Spirit
witnesses with you, “You are at peace. You’re settled and quiet before God.” And it’s out of that
peace and quiet that will come God’s natural guidance and then just go the way that is natural, go
gently. That is what I have done. Go gently, don’t go like a bull right down that way because
you’re sure that’s the way to go. Go gently down, watching for God confirming with a little step,
or confirming with a little circumstance.
So go gently forward, don’t go down that path as if, “Yes, I can’t be wrong, I can’t be wrong.”
What I’ve shared often with you is that one of the things that I’ve found, as I’ve tried to walk on
with Jesus, is that now I’m surer than ever what God wants us to do. Surer than ever but, I’m more
ready than ever before to say I was wrong. And it’s interesting that it’s a paradox; the more you
walk with Jesus the surer you get of what he wants you to do, the less problems you have with
guidance, and yet the more ready you are to say, “Lord I was wrong.”
And that’s the way to go. Go gently forward, watching for confirming circumstances or confirming
comments and trust the Holy Spirit to enable you to discern those circumstances and those comments.
You see, don’t try then to judge those comments or those circumstances by your mind, no say, “Holy
Spirit will you show me?” Because often God allows obstacles to come into your path to see whether
you’re determined to go his way or not. And at other times, he allows obstacles to come into your
path to show you, “This is not the way at all. There’s no flow of my Spirit in this direction.”
And normally of course, if you find God’s way for your life there’ll be a generally right flow.
There’ll be some difficulties to strengthen you and give you spiritual muscles, but there will be a
gentle flow about the guidance. I’m going to stop there on purpose. Any questions loved ones so
that you are real about it? Does he want you to go at times in faith? Certainly, certainly, often
to go in faith — not quite sure, but believing that this is the way to go.
Question from Audience:
Haven’t you to be careful about the authorities that you trust for confirmation to you?
Response from Pastor O’Neill:
And I don’t know Mike what you’re putting your finger on but I certainly have been repelled by some
of the spirit filled bodies as they call themselves who have a very strong authoritarian eldership
whereby you almost have to be told by your elder if you’re to go downtown or not to go downtown.
Now, it seems to me that has nothing in common with the kind of operation of the body of Jesus in
the New Testament.
And I agree with you fully that it seems to me in certain so-called spiritual circles, though I
can’t see how they’re the Spirit of Jesus circles, but there are certain groups that emphasize the
authority of the eldership in an unscriptural way. And Mike, the way I would determine it would be
that they tend to say, “Every initiative of everybody in the body should come from the eldership and
from the pastor.” In other words, the first guidance should come from the authority that God has
placed over you.
I would say that if the teaching of scripture is that the first guidance should come from God’s
Spirit within you and then you should go to the spiritual authority over you, or your parents if
they are your spiritual authority, or your husband, or your wife, or your mother, and you should ask
them, or the elders, or the pastor. But it seems to me Mike, you should be in a position where you
have submitted yourself to the pastors, the elders of a certain body because the Spirit of God has
already witnessed that they are trustworthy.
And I think you’re mad to submit yourself to anybody whom you don’t trust. But I do think that many
of us come into real problems because we don’t belong to any body and we don’t trust anyone
particularly, and we aren’t obedient to anyone, and we’re just freelancers who really do what we
want to do and we just move where we want to move, and we move away from where we want to move just
as we please. And it seems that we’re not under God’s guidance at all. So that’s what I would say
would be the difference.
Question from Audience:
Isn’t it true that perhaps God does witness gently and with a gentle spirit, but isn’t it true that
at times the apostles went out with boldness and they preached in very hostile environments and
received all kinds of opposition?
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
Yes, I am with you completely, Clyde. I do believe as God’s Spirit gets hold of us we are more and
more fitted to say the right thing even though it will bring back opposition and rejection. The
important thing is that we would be mature enough to have only the offense of the cross in our
lives. And it seems to me that many of us who are just new Christians have a rawness about us that
has an offense besides that of the cross and we have an offensiveness in the way we approach people,
and button hole them, and it really is not the beauty of Jesus that people see but they rather see
an ideologist that is trying to persuade them of their point of view.
And it seems that that rawness and that offensiveness is not the boldness of Peter and Paul in their
mature spiritual life. So that would be my approach, that in the early days it’s just very
important to be sure that you’re saying what the Spirit of Jesus is guiding you to say and not what
often our own self justifying will is trying to do. Because often we’re preoccupied with trying to
convert people almost to prove to ourselves that we’re Christians.
Question from Audience:
They were evangelists and came against a hostile world.
Response from Pastor O’Neill:
And yet brother so are we in a sense you know, but I do agree with you that there were special
conditions in those days. But so there will be for us and that’s why we have to mature in God and
mature in the Spirit so that we can come with that boldness — because loved ones we are going to
face it. If you and I will go out into the world to preach the gospel to all nations then we are
going to find ourselves in streets in Calcutta, streets in Sydney, Australia where there will be no
children of God at all and where nobody will understand what we’re sharing and there will be then
often rebuke and often rebuff and we do need to be sure and confident enough to bear it.
Question from Audience (inaudible)
Reply from Pastor O’Neill:
It is true what Jim is saying, that there is a difference in a sense, even in this situation here,
because you loved ones aren’t corralled into here. And loved ones that come on Sunday morning, they
aren’t forced into here. They come because they want to hear and so there is, in a sense, a power
and an opportunity for a preacher that is very different from the opportunity that I have when I
deal with business men through the week, or that you have when you deal with your colleagues through
In a sense our work colleagues are a captive audience because we work with them. Here at church, in
a sense, no they’ve come in and they’ve said, “We want to hear truth as you want to share it.” So
there is a difference, yes.
Well, shall we pray loved ones?
Dear Father, we thank you that there is a sure way to travel especially in regard to guidance. And
we thank you that you have taught it plainly in scripture that first we are to have our eyes upon
you, our Father, because you are going to guide us with your eye and we need to be continually
preoccupied with you and with what pleases you. And then through the intuition of our spirit you
will give us an impression as to which way we should go and then it is our responsibility to go to
some other person, older than ourselves, some authority in God, and receive confirmation or denial
Lord, thank you for such a plain way. Thank you Lord that it is a plain and a holy way where the
wayfaring man will not lose his way and thank you Lord, that each one of us can have that. And I
pray especially Lord Jesus, for loved ones even here tonight who may be seeking guidance. I pray
Lord that you take from them all that is sheer restlessness or their own discontentment and that
you’d make them first of all content with you, and with where they are at present.
Lord, thank you for showing us that there’ll be no guidance unless we have learned in whatsoever
state we are therewith to be content. And so Lord, I would pray for everyone here that we be first
of all in that position where the voice of the Holy Spirit could come to us, a place of peace where
we are content to be here or be wherever we are for the rest of our lives if that’s your will. And
then Lord, into that quiet contented spirit you can place your own voice and then when we hear that
voice Lord, we’ll go to someone else for checking and confirming.
Thank you, Lord. I pray that you’ll use each one of us in the place that you have appointed for us
for your glory and that you’ll use us this week to bring the same confidence and certainty to our
friends and to our colleagues. Now, the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the
fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and throughout this coming week. Amen.